Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto has been lambasted for his decision to buy second-hand Eurofighter jets from Austria, with some Lawmakers demanding that he go ahead with the Russian Su-35 fighters whose purchase is already in the pipeline.
“Prabowo has not discussed the purchase with us. I only heard (about plans of Eurofighter purchase) from media reports,” Meutya Hafid, House Commission I on Defense, Foreign Affairs and Information chairperson, was quoted as saying by Kompas.com today.
Austrian defense minister Klaudia Tanner reportedly received a letter dated July 10 from his Indonesian counterpart offering to acquire 11 Eurofighters, taking everyone by surprise.
“To achieve my target of modernizing the Indonesian Air Force, I would, therefore, like to propose to enter into official deliberation with you, your Excellency, on purchasing all 15 Eurofighter Typhoons from Austria for the Air Force of the Republic of Indonesia,” Prabowo said in the alleged letter circulated in social media.
“The Commission is yet to discuss buying fighters as we have to look into COVID-19’s effect on the 2021 budget. I urge Prabowo to consider the purchase carefully instead of hastily going through it,” Meutya Hafid said.
She added that the government should prioritize technology transfer and buy spare parts. “After all, we have fighters like the Sukhoi (Su-27 and Su-30) and F-16s.”
Meanwhile, House Commission member Willy Aditya said the planned purchase of used Eurofighter Typhoon fighter from Austria must be rethought.
The reason, the plane was judged to be similar to the Sukhoi-35 fighter aircraft made in Russia, whose purchase plans had been agreed upon by the previous Parliament, Aditya said adding "Pak Prabowo (Minister of Defense) must also consider this matter," Willy was quoted as saying by Kompas.
In terms of infrastructure, maintenance, parts and equipment, Indonesia was far better prepared to buy Sukhoi-35. Willy added that the purchase of similar fighters from different manufacturers was considered inefficient and had the potential to inflate the budget. "If you buy a different one, then other expenses for repairs, maintenance, spare parts, and so on will be different. The impact will also be related to the state budget later," Willy said.
Indonesia has entered into an agreement with Russia in 2018 to take forward the purchase of Su-35 jets on a part-cash, part-barter deal. However reports say talks have been frozen over payment mechanism and subsequent pressure from the US to impose sanctions if Jakarta buys Russian equipment.